What do you get when you put three major universities, one of the largest research areas in the world, and a capital city near each other? You get the Research Triangle: the three cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Durham and Chapel Hill house the prestigious Duke University and the University of North Carolina. Raleigh is home to North Carolina State University and is the capital of North Carolina.
The Research Triangle has consistently ranked in the top five most desirable locations in which to live in the United States. A vibrant cultural and restaurant scene, the laid-back atmosphere of three college towns, and the bustle of a government center all combine to make the Research Triangle a great place to live.
But there is another side to the Research Triangle in general and Raleigh in particular. The economic prosperity and high level of education mask a desperate spiritual need. Although located in the South, Raleigh is a very liberal city.
In an effort to meet this need, the OPC entered Raleigh’s story over thirty years ago with Pilgrim OPC. It has grown steadily to a good size, bearing witness to Christ and his grace. And in June 2010, Shiloh Presbyterian Church, a mission work planted by the Presbytery of the Southeast, became part of the Research Triangle’s story.
Pilgrim OPC is located just north of downtown Raleigh. The Research Triangle Park, home to the second largest IBM facility in the world, as well as dozens of the world’s leading technology companies, has fostered the growth of several bedroom suburbs south of the city. There were only a few Reformed churches in southern Wake County, and the need for more was evident. Thus, Shiloh’s ministry began in the city of Cary, about twelve miles southwest of Raleigh.
The church began strong and has grown stronger. With a start-up group of seventy-five people, Shiloh has seen the Lord’s hand of blessing from the beginning. And while numbers are not unimportant (let us never forget that numbers represent people!), they do not tell the whole story. More encouraging than the increasing attendance at Shiloh was the spiritual food fed to Christ’s flock. The regular ministry of Lacy Andrews, regional home missionary of the Presbytery of the Southeast, augmented by various professors from Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, signally blessed her pulpit. In particular, seminary president and professor Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., regularly preached the Word, along with other faithful men. From its inception, Shiloh has enjoyed a robust pulpit ministry.
I was called to be the organizing pastor of Shiloh in the summer of 2011. Since I was in the final phase of the course work for my Ph.D. at Westminster Theological Seminary, my ministry was to begin full-time in the spring of 2012.
I graduated from Greenville Seminary in 2008 and was ordained to the gospel ministry that same year at Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina, my hometown. When I left for Westminster in 2010, I had no idea I would end up as an Orthodox Presbyterian church planter!
Now that I have been installed for six months, I can say that serving as organizing pastor of Shiloh has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. The people at Shiloh love God’s Word, love each other, and seek to win the lost for Christ. What more could a church planter ask for? I am continually thankful to the Lord for the opportunity of church planting in the OPC. The denominational support, presbytery fellowship, and overall experience have been second to none.
These are exciting times to be an Orthodox Presbyterian, particularly if you live in Raleigh! Our prayer is that God will use our two churches to grow and multiply the ministry of his grace in the Triangle.
Written by: Gabriel Fluhrer